Chief Strategist, SEO Expert Consultant, Trainer and Professional Speaker
Search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM), when done correctly, can directly impact the performance of the web site, marketing programs sales performance and provide valuable intelligence to enable smarter business decisions. Many businesses rely on their website as their actual business venue, or at very least a source of business leads or sales.
Web site optimization, usability and search engine optimization are in-depth practices that integrate evaluation, strategy, measurement and planning to increase the conversion of web site visitors to leads or sales. Surprisingly, a large number of websites are not optimized at all, making them virtually invisible to someone seeking a specific solution or resource. Web sites require an investment of time and resources. Failing to optimize a web site for search engine visibility is like opening a wonderful country store full of quality merchandise in the middle of the country and never letting anyone know it is there…it will surely fail. Consumers are using the Internet to find everything from products, physicians, attorneys, CPAs, restaurants, concerts, churches, schools and places of business.
How easily can your site be found by your target audience? If your site is not visible, you could be losing business to competitors that are visible, simply because they are meeting customers where they are looking…on the web.
How do you know whether you need to optimize your web site? Do a search!
Even if you aren’t using the exact keywords your target audience is, if you see your competitors’ websites before your own, so are your prospective customers. You can also have an expert conduct an SEO analysis to determine how optimized your website REALLY is.
Beware of emails that offer to give you’re a million visitors to your site. I always ask my clients if they would have one million people come to their front door, hoping that by chance a few might actually be interested in their offering, or if they would rather find 500 qualified prospects to invite to their door. The choice considerably easier to make when you consider the cost associated with getting them there.
All SEO is not equal.
Businesses should be extremely skeptical of consultants that promise to position you #1 position on any given search engine. Google, the search engine that is serving up roughly 80% of all online searches, advises businesses against falling prey to such claims as there can be no guarantee when it comes to search engine rankings. True web site optimization begins with a thorough analysis of the many factors that contribute to the success of an e-business environment, such as content, calls to action, tracking mechanisms, site statistics and conversion to customers and the all-important bottom line. SEO, or search engine optimization must directly correlate to organizational business goals, marketing messages, sales programs and the experience of the user once they do arrive on your web site.
Things to consider when seeking better search engine visibility:
1. The internet is a living entity and changes constantly so your best bet is to do a thorough optimization that can persevere day to day fluctuations in web content for specific searches. A web site that is optimized with proven methods and best practices will fare well when periodic changes are made to ways search engines process site meta data, content and other factors when determining ranking of results.
2. Do not become tempted to implement questionable or unethical search engine optimization practices. There may not be a governing authority, however if you blatently attempt to cheat current search engine rules and behaviors with tricks and work-arounds, be prepared for the consequences. The search engines have the ability, should they choose to use it, to blacklist you, making it an uphill battle to gain visibility. I like to use a playground sandbox to illustrate the ways that search engines behave. They each have their own rules, methods and preferences, independent of each other. If you don’t play by their rules, they can, and have been known to, kick you out.
3. Don’t guess. 99% of the time our clients have a totally different understanding of how their online prospects are seeking their product or service and make incorrect assumptions about what keywords to use to optimize their website. It is far more effective to adapt to the thinking of the marketplace, rather than trying than trying to make them think like how you do.
4. Track and measure. You should be checking your web site statistics regularly to understand your audience every step of the way. They will give you the cold hard facts about what is and isn’t working for your web site.
5. Know when to ask for help. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or Marketing is not for the faint of heart. It requires patience and a willingness to continually adapt to the changing landscape of the internet. A solid understanding of how the search engines work is invaluable when it comes to search engine visibility. The more you know, the better the more effective the program will be. If you haven’t done it before, go ahead and give it a try, some optimization will always improve the visibility of a web site with no optimization. However, if the success of your business depends on the visibility of your site for leads, customers, feedback or sales, you may want to enlist the assistance of an experienced SEO expert.